RE: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 57, Issue 17

Subject: RE: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 57, Issue 17
From: john rosberg <john_rosberg -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 08:53:47 -0500

> The 'demand' for this certification is coming from the STC. The primary beneficiary of an STC certification would be the STC. That's not to say it *mightn't* be the case that it would be useful to managers/employers/jobseekers, but I find that to be an unlikely driver.
Bill Swallow Wrte:

Incorrect. Demand is coming from writers. If you don't believe me,
search the archives. This topic has popped up pretty much every year
for as long as I can remember being on this list, like clockwork. STC
is answering it. If that's seen as selfish, oh well. It's also selfish
for your company to take money from people to provide them with a
product they feel is useful or needed. At what point should we draw
the line? I have a lot of chalk.

Bill Swallow

This is certainly one way to interpret the data, but far from the only way.

The STC, of course, simply doesn't exist -- it has no opinions, desires, requirements, or ideas other than those of the folks that are members (like Bill). The STC doesn’t “want” a certification program – the leadership of the Society believes it is a need the membership has.

The topic of Certification has certainly resurfaced regularly and repeatedly on this list (and all others that I know of). However, I do not believe that even a simple majority of writers have much interest in a certification program. I've been involved in Tech Com since the Ford administration, and I've never heard the lack of a certification program mentioned as a problem by either writers or those that hire them. The lone exception has been writers that are also staunch STC members and officers. This has been a fairly small number of folks.

So, while it is fair to say that writers want a cert program, that might be a bit misleading (though I intimate no such intention on Bill's part). I believe it’s more accurate to understand that people who want such a program are talking to each other, and often.

This COULD simply be a reflection of the fact that those who are serious about their profession (serious enough to be heavily involved in the Society) want certification. This was suggested during the rather heated arguments that surrounded the dark days around the first of the year.

I simply do not believe this, though, as it intimates that the many people I know who do wonderful work in the field without being part of the Society do not take their work seriously. I know this to be untrue.

As a hiring manager, I really don't know that an STC Cert would have any impact on a hiring decision I might have to make. Given the choice between an outstanding technical communicator who has a body of work demonstrating extremely high levels of expertise in US English writing, and a pretty darned good writer that demonstrates a firm grasp on business principles, I would pick the latter every time.

(N.B. This doesn’t even to begin to address the writer’s expertise in the field being documented. Another conversation altogether.)

The biggest question, I believe, is if the STC has the respect outside of the profession for the program to carry any weight with those that hire and interact with writers. I do not profess to know the answer to that.

I DO think that for the Society (and the profession in general) to look outside the small world that it inhabits is a wonderful thing. If the Certification Program can help this process, well done.

John Rosberg
Documentation and Training
john_rosberg -at- hotmail -dot- com
2765 Deerfield Road
Riverwoods, IL 60015

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